Maurizio Sarri claims he was defending the honour of Naples by directing a rude gesture at Juventus supporters from onboard the Napoli team coach prior to Sunday's vital 1-0 win in Turin.
Sarri was filmed showing his middle finger to watching Bianconeri fans ahead of the showdown between the Serie A leaders and the title-challengers at the Allianz Stadium.
Kalidou Koulibaly's 90th-minute header earned a dramatic victory for Napoli and saw them close the gap on Juve to just one point with four matches of the league season remaining.
In a news conference after the win, Sarri was questioned on the confrontation before the game.
"I replied to a group of people who were spitting at the bus and insulting us for being Neapolitan," he said.
"I would never make a gesture like that towards anyone for being a Juventus fan.
"The vast majority of Juventus fans are wonderful people and there was one in our hotel who we had a good laugh and joke with. I have no issue with Juventus fans. It was only with those who spat at us and insulted us for being Neapolitan."
#Sarri: "I wouldn't ever want to offend the fans of @juventusfcen. My reaction was to those spitting and hurling insults as we arrived at the ground"— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) April 22, 2018
Napoli's first win at Allianz Stadium means the team are firmly in contention to win the title for the first time since 1989-90, but Sarri knows his side remain underdogs on and off the pitch.
"I have always said Napoli at this moment of history cannot plan for success, as there are economically stronger clubs," he said.
"We can plan the technical and tactical growth of a team, which can take us to 105 per cent of our potential, but we can't guaranteed results.
"We've seen this team grow over the years in terms of tactics, technique and also mentality. We played totally without fear in one of the toughest stadiums in Europe and that's a positive sign."
"We wanted to come here, take the initiative and force Juventus to play only on the counter-attack.
"We only ever allowed them something on set plays, as they are more physical, but otherwise we controlled the match and the victory was a logical consequence of that.
"So far, I'm having fun. We made our extraordinary fans happy, but Juventus remain ahead and therefore almost nothing has changed. We still have a very slim chance of overtaking them."
16 de agosto 2018
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